Underwatering can be a huge issue, dry medias won’t allow nutrient exchange and often damage your roots. The lasting affects from a drought or simply forgetting to hydrate your media can be seen as other deficiencies, so paying attention to your dry downs can be very important.
Certain medias rich in organic diversity need dry downs and because of the soil activity will weather dry downs better. Early life is especially important in terms of dry downs in order to illicit a greater rooting response, but growers must remain cautions to not damage roots while in early development. Keep your dry downs limited but do not over water young plants.
Other inert medias like COCO fiber require a constant % of saturation, this is because COCO fiber at a microscopic level when dry damages roots, and COCO is designed to deliver nutrients while constantly saturated. So underwatering in COCO can lead to root, nutrient and growth issues even faster.
The common signs of underwatering can look like over watering and or other pH deficiencies or root issue. In reality, dry downs that damage the root system will create further problems.
If you’ve been underwatering your plant, its leaves will look limp and lifeless, like these plants.
Correcting a under watering issues is very simple, preventing damage to the root system and leaves can be a bit more tricky.
Just re-saturate your media with pH water and if the plant is in a wilt you should spray it with pH water as well, increase humidity if possible and lower any intensity of light. Do not over water at this point. Add just enough water to saturate soil. when plant is showing signs of recovering, usually within 3 hours, add a feed solution to the media.
In order to prevent underwatering attention to how you water is required.
Your watering cycle should reflect both the vitality of the plant and the environment it exists in, simply put every plant in every environment will consume and require water at different rates. In general, young plants should be seeing dry downs within 2 days of watering, while older plants might dry down in a day or a week. Older plants tend to weather dry downs better then younger. Add high heat, wind, or above avg plant size or health and the amount of water your media needs to keep your plants growing optimally will increase.
This is the case for cannabis plants grown in both soilless growing mediums and soil.
First-time growers tend to overwater their plants, but underwatering happens too. So check your medias for dry downs, match the dry down cycles with feeding cycles to either maintain a certain amount of saturation like in soilless media or to maintain proper dry downs to encourage root health in high CEC soil medias.
Rules of Thumb when watering:
- Water your plant when the media is dry, check with a hydrometer or by sticking a finger in the soil to check dampness, you should see damp soil with in an Inch of the surface.
- Younger plants require much less water to remain healthy due to their smaller root system. Older plants will need much more and expect 10-15% run off when being watered to leachate the system.
- Water as much as your plant will use within a 2-day period at most, high CEC soils that remain saturated tend to develop root problems and drainage issue so be sure to water with care to your media
- Always water in the light cycles.
***Big Plant Watering Tip, when gauging when bigger plants need water. Just pick them up (or tilt them), feed the lightest to your preferred amount and then gauge all others based on that. Over time you will get a feel for your perfect saturation amount and will be able to tell by feel when a plant is dry or not***